Welcome to my weekly blog series – Author Interviews.
These interviews allow me to delve into the creative world of an author. Over a virtual cuppa and a biscuit we talk about their literary journey, the obstacles they faced whilst writing their book and most importantly the outfit they wear whilst writing.
This week I am pleased to announce that I have been joined by author and book reviewer Heena Rathore P.
Hey! Tell my readers about yourself and the book / books you have written
Hi Lucy, first of all, thanks a lot for having me on your blog. I’m a 25-year-old writer from India. I am a full-time novelist and spend 90% of my waking either hours writing or reading books. I am also a novel critic and I’m quite selective of the novels I accept to critique, limiting them to only 1-2 per month. I am also a professional book reviewer (yes, I do get paid to review books.) I also work as a part-time Social Media Strategist for a publication house, but it’s nothing fancy, just the basic stuff.
I have a devil’s mind that hates rest, so I try to keep myself busy with work all the time as resting is simply not an option for me.
My debut novel, Deceived, is a psychological thriller written in multiple POVs along with a sprinkling of Diary Entries by the main antagonist who is a psychopath. The story follows two different timelines. It is due out in February 2017. In this book, I’ve tried to give a glimpse inside the mind of a psychopath as I really feel that it is the one element that a lot of thrillers are missing on.
The second novel (the one I’m currently working on), Sinister Town, is a crime thriller with elements of horror. It is based on the concept of ritual and cult killings.
When did you write your first book?
I wrote my first book in 2015.
How long did it take to write your first book?
It took me 5 months to write my first book – I wrote the first draft of it in June 2015 for JuNoWriMo, then revised it and wrote the second draft for Camp NaNoWriMo July 2015.
After that, I worked day and night revising and editing the story, and by early October 2015, I had sent the book to my close friend, Dagny, who offered to beta read cum proofread it for me. After that, I revised the book again based on her comments and was done with it in November 2015.
After that, I took a long break from the book (mostly because of a nasty bout of Writer’s Block) and then edited it in February 2016 just before signing a contract for it with Citrus Publishers.
So it actually took me 5 months to be done with the story, but for signing a contract it took me a total of 9 months.
What was your motivation to write your first book?
The main motivation was, for me, was this unquenchable thirst to share this story with everyone. Also, I really enjoyed the entire process of writing in itself and was simply not able to put it to rest even for a day.
What writing issues did you encounter along the way and how did you overcome them?
I had a few issues related to keeping track of the timelines. As my story progresses in two alternating timelines, I had to constantly maintain a lot of sheets with timelines and somewhere along the line, I changed a year without realizing it (kind of a typo) and then it became a nightmare for me for a few weeks. But thankfully I was able to get everything sorted at the end with the help of my friend, Dagny, and later on, with the help of my extremely sharp-eyed editors.
Did you go through any bad writing patches during writing your book – what kept you going?
Yes, I did. I tried to take a break of 2 weeks from my book after revising it for the last time in November 2015, but that eventually turned into a lengthy writing slump and I lost almost 2 full months because of it.
I tried all my usual methods to cope with it – Freewriting, walking, jogging, taking a complete break from everything else, meditating, etc, etc, etc, but nothing worked. Then one day, out of nowhere, while beta reading a friend’s book I realized that it was the font of my manuscript that was creating the problem on a sub-conscious level. After I changed the font of my manuscript, I was back in the game.
I even did a post on it on my blog – The Font Effect. A lot of writers found it quite amusing and useful.
Are you a plotter or do you just write / see what happens?
I’m a Planster (Plotter + Pantster) – I plot, then I write by the seat of my pants, and then I plot more so that I can write by the seat of my pants again! This is the only way I write because it comes naturally to me and, as a result, it helps me write really fast.
What is the best thing about being a writer?
I don’t get asked a lot of questions upon refusing to attend public events.
What is the worst thing about being a writer?
Very few people (or hardly anyone) understand you or what you do. Fortunately for me, my husband is a creative genius himself, so he gets me completely, but unfortunately, a lot of other people in my life, that matter to me a lot, don’t get what I do.
I’ve been writing full-time for last 3 years and finally, it has stopped bothering me now because I have stopped caring about what other’s think.
Have you ever considered quitting writing, and if so how have you worked through this?
Never! On the contrary, I start feeling anxious if I don’t write for a couple of days in a row. In a way, writing has healed me and saved me from myself, so I can’t even imagine quitting it. Ever.
What does a typical writing day look like for you?
I’m a morning person, so I get up around 6 and make it a point to complete my exercise, yoga, Gratitude practice, and breakfast by 9:00 am. Then I sit for writing on my dining table (I have 2 dedicated study rooms, but the only place my creative mind likes is the dining table.)
I write continuously for 2-4 hours, meditating in between for 5 minutes every 45 minutes. Some days are good, but some days are a struggle, so I make it a point to complete at least 1500 words before getting up from the table. I follow this routine strictly for at least 5 days a week.
Then I read in the afternoons and if I feel like it again, I write for another hour or two in the evening or night again (this happens at least 3-4 days a week.)
Sometimes, if I skip the morning session, I do it in the evenings. Saturdays are mostly dedicated to other things so I write only for an hour on Saturdays. And Sundays are completely dedicated to spending quality time with my husband, so I never write on Sundays, except while participating in WriMos or meeting deadlines.
Which is more important – plot or characters and why?
Characters. Hands down. You simply cannot have a good story without strong characters. And if your characters are really strong, your story will never fail to amaze readers. Characters are at the heart of all the stories, so you can’t afford to go wrong with them.
What have been your 3 biggest learnings during your writing career?
- Stop caring about others’ opinion of yourself and your work.
- Don’t get intimidated by the fancy methods of other writers or authors because, at the end of the day, everyone sits on a simple table and write or type their books; simple as that.
- The only two things that’ll help you in writing are: Reading and writing. They should be like a religion to you. They should be like god’s worship to you. Then, and only then, you’ll be able to do them both justice.
How do you manage social media as a writer?
I love the Internet and I think that is what helps me handle all my accounts easily. But it does get taxing when you’re writing books at the speed of 1 book a year. So far, I’ve managed to handle everything, but from the last few months, I’ve noticed that I am starting to get stressed over it. So to be able to handle everything nicely, I’ve decided to hire an assistant in the coming months.
Do you have any tips or advice for budding aspiring authors?
I’ve come across a lot of aspiring writers, most of them recently, and the only thing I’m almost always asked is what to write and how to write?
So my advice is always the same: Write only if you have a story inside you. Write if you have a passion for sharing that story with the world and write only if you actually have the guts to sit down and write.
A lot of people don’t realize it, but writing needs a certain level of self-discipline. And if you think writing can be done without any discipline, then you might be able to write for a while, but you’ll never be able to do it consistently for long.
Do you suffer from writer’s block and if so how do you overcome?
Yes, I do. And it happens quite often, but I’ve simply made my peace with it. Sometimes, silence needs to prevail and the mind needs rest.
Whenever I get writer’s block, I start reading books in my genre. Also, I watch a lot of series and movies (mostly thrillers) and try to get into the mood of my story and start working on it in my mind. And before I know it, I feel ready to write again.
If none of these things work, I go for long walks or long drives in the night with my husband, try to catch up on some gaming, drawing, cooking, or any other creative activity. Yoga and meditation help a lot (yes, I do a lot of both, I’m an Indian after all.)
Do you ever think of the next book whilst writing?
I always do this when I get new ideas that can potentially be my next book(s). It’s really hard to put them on back burner and let them sit there till I’m done with what I’m currently working on. So, in order to not let them come in the way of my writing of my current WIP, I set aside an hour daily for a week for the new ideas and start writing summaries and related things for those new ideas. This helps me in calming down my mind and also to remember the entire thing later on when I actually start working on them.
What do you wear to write?
In summers – cotton shorts and loose cotton t-shirts, simple and comfortable. In winters – pajamas, socks, long sleeved cotton shirts and a big woolen shawl. I have the cold-feet condition so I keep a hot water bag under my socked feet to help them keep warm. Also, I wear fingerless wrist warmers, which help me fight the cold without coming in the way of my writing/typing. (I bet people might think that I stay someplace really cold, like beyond the Wall or something, but I don’t. I live in India, the best place on Earth; still, I can’t handle cold weathers.)
Additionally (and I might get a lot of are-you-serious looks for this), I hate writing in cafes because I simply can’t write if I’m wearing “outdoor clothes.”
If readers want to get in touch how do they contact you?
They can get in touch with me through any of these platforms:
Wow – fab interview!
Here’s what I am going to be taking from this interview:
- The font change sounds interesting and I am currently facing the same issue with my draft. I have found your article and have put a link here for my readers. Will be trying that later.
- I can totally relate to what you say about not being understood and worrying what others think of you. Our creativity can be so fragile at times.
- I also feel anxious if I don’t write.
- Yoga and meditation have helped me enormously through my second draft. I started doing both every day at the start of this year and I have seen a real change in my output and productivity.
- I am loving the shawl part of your writer outfit!
Great interview – thank you!
Don’t miss my Christmas Day blog post special tomorrow. It will bring a smile to your face and a festive twinkle to your eye!